The Volvo Group (Swedish: Volvokoncernen; legally Aktiebolaget Volvo, shortened to AB Volvo, stylized as VOLVO) is a Swedish multinational manufacturing company headquartered in Gothenburg. While its core activity is the production, distribution and sale of trucks, buses and construction equipment, Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems and financial services. In 2016, it was the world's second largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks.
|Publicly traded Aktiebolag|
|Traded as||Nasdaq Stockholm: VOLV B|
|Founders||Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson|
|Carl-Henric Svanberg (Chairman)|
Martin Lundstedt (President and CEO)
|Products||Trucks, buses, construction equipment, marine and industrial engines, financial services, product related services|
Number of employees
|105 175 (2018)|
Volvo Construction Equipment
Volvo Financial Services
Automobile manufacturer Volvo Cars, also based in Gothenburg, was part of AB Volvo until 1999, when it was sold to the Ford Motor Company. Since 2010 it has been owned by the Chinese multinational automotive company Geely Holding Group. Both AB Volvo and Volvo Cars share the Volvo logo and cooperate in running the Volvo Museum in Sweden.
Volvo was established in 1915 as a subsidiary of SKF, a ball bearing manufacturer; however both the Volvo Group and Volvo Cars regard the rollout of the company's first car series, the Volvo ÖV 4, on 14 April 1927, as their beginning. The building remains (57°42′50″N 11°55′19″E).
Early years and international expansion
The brand name Volvo was originally registered as a trademark in May 1911 with the intention to be used for a new series of SKF ball bearings. It means "I roll" in Latin, conjugated from "volvere". The idea was short-lived, and SKF decided to simply use its initials as the trademark for all its bearing products.
In 1924, Assar Gabrielsson, an SKF sales manager, and a KTH Royal Institute of Technology educated engineer Gustav Larson, the two founders, decided to start construction of a Swedish car. They intended to build cars that could withstand the rigors of the country's rough roads and cold temperatures.
AB Volvo began activities on 10 August 1926. After one year of preparations involving the production of ten prototypes, the firm was ready to commence the car-manufacturing business within the SKF group. The Volvo Group itself considers it started in 1927, when the first car, a Volvo ÖV 4, rolled off the production line at the factory in Hisingen, Gothenburg. Only 280 cars were built that year. The first truck, the "Series 1", debuted in January 1928, as an immediate success and attracted attention outside the country. In 1930, Volvo sold 639 cars, and the export of trucks to Europe started soon after; the cars did not become well known outside Sweden until after World War II. AB Volvo was introduced at the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1935 and SKF then decided to sell its shares in the company. By 1942, Volvo acquired the Swedish precision engineering company Svenska Flygmotor (later renamed as Volvo Aero).
The first bus, named B1, was launched in 1934, and aircraft engines were added to the growing range of products at the beginning of the 1940s. In 1963, Volvo opened the Volvo Halifax Assembly plant, the first assembly plant in the company's history outside of Sweden in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
In 1950, Volvo acquired the Swedish construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer Bolinder-Munktell. Bolinder-Munktell was renamed as Volvo BM in 1973. In 1979, Volvo BM's agricultural equipment business was sold to Valmet. Later, through restructuring and acquisitions, the remaining construction equipment business became Volvo Construction Equipment.
Partnerships and merging attempts
In 1977, Volvo tried to combine operations with rival Swedish automotive group Saab-Scania, but the latter company rejected it. In the 1970s, French manufacturer Renault and Volvo started to collaborate. In 1978, Volvo Car Corporation was spun off as a separate company within the Volvo group and Renault acquired a minority stake, before selling it back in the 1980s after a restructuring. In the 1990s, Renault and Volvo deepened their collaboration and both companies partnered in purchasing, research and development and quality control while increasing their cross-ownership. Renault would assist Volvo with entry-level and medium segment vehicles and in return Volvo would share technology with Renault in upper segments. In 1993, a 1994 Volvo-Renault merger deal was announced. The deal was barely accepted in France, but it was opposed in Sweden, and the Volvo shareholders and company board voted against it. The alliance was officially dissolved in February 1994 and Volvo sold off its minority Renault stake in 1997.
In 1991, the Volvo Group participated in a joint venture with Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors at the former DAF plant in Born, Netherlands. The operation, branded NedCar, began producing the first generation Mitsubishi Carisma alongside the Volvo S40/V40 in 1996. During the 1990s, Volvo also partnered with the American manufacturer General Motors. In 1999, the European Union blocked a merger with Scania AB.
Refocusing on heavy vehicles
In January 1999, Volvo Group sold Volvo Car Corporation to Ford Motor Company for $6.45 billion. The division was placed within Ford's Premier Automotive Group alongside Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Volvo engineering resources and components would be used in various Ford, Land Rover and Aston Martin products, with the second generation Land Rover Freelander designed on the same platform as the second generation Volvo S80. The Volvo T5 petrol engine was used in the Ford Focus ST and RS performance models, and Volvo's satellite navigation system was used on certain Aston Martin Vanquish, DB9 and V8 Vantage models. In November 1999, Volvo Group purchased a 5% stake in Mitsubishi Motors, as part of a partnership deal for the truck and bus business. In 2001, after DaimlerChrysler bought a large Mitsubishi Motors stake, Volvo sold its shares to the former.
Renault Véhicules Industriels (which included Mack Trucks, but not Renault's stake in Irisbus) was sold to Volvo during January 2001, and Volvo renamed it Renault Trucks in 2002. Renault became AB Volvo's biggest shareholder with a 19.9% stake (in shares and voting rights) as part of the deal. Renault increased its shareholding to 21.7% by 2010.
AB Volvo acquired 13% of the shares in the Japanese truck manufacturer Nissan Diesel from Nissan (part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance) during 2006, becoming a major shareholder. Volvo Group took complete ownership of Nissan Diesel in 2007 to extend its presence in the Asian Pacific market.
Renault sold 14.9% of their stake in AB Volvo in October 2010 (comprising 14.9% of the share capital and 3.8% of the voting rights) for €3.02 billion. This share sale left Renault with around 17.5% of Volvo's voting rights. Renault sold their remaining shares in December 2012 (comprising 6.5% of the share capital and 17.2% of the voting rights at the time of transaction) for €1.6 billion, leaving Swedish industrial investment group Aktiebolaget Industrivärden as the largest shareholder, with 6.2% of the share capital and 18.7% of the voting rights. That same year, Volvo sold Volvo Aero to the British company GKN. In 2017 Volvo Cars owner Geely became the largest Volvo shareholder by number of shares after acquiring an 8.2% stake, displacing Industrivärden. Industrivärden kept more voting rights than Geely (Geely getting a 15.8%).
In December 2013, Volvo sold its Volvo Construction Equipment Rents division to Platinum Equity. In 2014, Volvo's Volvo Construction Equipment acquired the haul truck manufacturing division of Terex Corporation, which included five truck models and a manufacturing facility in Motherwell, Scotland. In November 2016, Volvo announced its intention of divesting its Government Sales division, made up mainly of Renault Trucks' Renault Trucks Defense but also of Panhard, ACMAT, Mack Defense in the United States, and Volvo Defense. The project for selling the division was later abandoned and, in May 2018, Volvo reorganized Renault Trucks Defense and renamed it Arquus.
In December 2018, Volvo announced it intended to sell a 75.1% controlling stake of its car telematics subsidiary WirelessCar to Volkswagen with the aim of focusing on telematics for commercial vehicles. The sale was completed in March 2019.
Volvo Group's operations include:
- Volvo Trucks (midsize-duty trucks for regional transportation and heavy-duty trucks for long distance transportation, as well as heavy-duty trucks for the construction work segment)
- Mack Trucks (light-duty trucks for close distribution and heavy-duty trucks for long distance transportation)
- Renault Trucks (heavy-duty trucks for regional transportations and heavy-duty trucks for the construction work segment)
- UD Trucks (midsize-duty trucks)
- Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles (45%) (trucks)
- VE Commercial Vehicles (Eicher) Ltd., India (VECV), a joint venture between Volvo Group and Eicher Motors Limited in which Volvo holds 45.6% (trucks and buses)
- Volvo Construction Equipment (construction equipment)
- SDLG (70%) (construction equipment)
- Volvo Buses (complete buses and bus chassis for city traffic, line traffic and tourist traffic)
- Volvo Financial Services (customer financing, inter-group banking, as real estate administration)
- Volvo Penta (marine engine systems for leisure boats and commercial shipping, diesel engines and drive systems for industrial applications)
The main activity of the company is to own, maintain, protect and preserve the Volvo trademarks (including Volvo, the Volvo device marks (grille slash & iron mark) Volvo Aero and Volvo Penta) on behalf of its owners and to license these rights to its owners. The day-to-day work is focused upon maintaining the global portfolio of trademark registrations and to extend sufficiently the scope of the registered protection for the Volvo trademarks.
The main business is also to act against unauthorised registration and use (including counterfeiting) of trademarks identical or similar to the Volvo trademarks on a global basis.
Collaboration with universities and colleges
Volvo has a strategic collaboration within research and recruitment with a number of selected colleges and universities such as Penn State University, INSA Lyon, EMLYON Business School, NC State University, Sophia University, Chalmers University of Technology, The Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Mälardalen University College, and the University of Skövde.
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